Our Performers

Meet our Pride 2019 Performers!

Jeffry Blake Johnson
Artistic Director

Dr. Jeffry Johnson has performed professionally as a conductor, singer, actor, pianist, harpsichordist, organist, and music teacher for over 30 years. His conducting credits feature numerous premieres as well as extensive work with contemporary and standard repertoire. His stage credits include numerous operatic leading tenor roles and several years performing with the national musical theater touring company American Family Theatre in various leading and supporting roles. He has performed extensively as a piano accompanist throughout the United States and has served numerous churches and synagogues. Currently, Dr. Johnson is an adjunct instructor of voice at Washington & Jefferson College.

William Larson

Bill Larson hails from Pittsburgh. He received a fellowship to the Tanglewood Music Center in 1989, and completed his graduate studies at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University in 1992. As a choir director and organist, he has served various churches in Baltimore and Pittsburgh. He is currently Choir Director and Organist for Beulah Presbyterian Church. In addition to his work with the Renaissance City Choirs, he has been choirmaster and keyboardist for the Undercroft Opera, and is a piano technician.

Alto 2, 2008


David Andrews
Baritone, 2017

David has been a part of the choir since 2017. Aside from the choir, their performance background is in drum corps and partner acrobatics.

Len Ayers
Tenor 1, 2017

Len is a first-year graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University, pursuing a degree in Arts Management. They greatly appreciate the open arms with which RCC has welcomed them. Outside the classroom and the choir, Len works part-time with the Pittsburgh Festival Opera.

Tessa Barber
Soprano 2, 2015

Tessa is so happy to be singing with the RCC after singing in choirs from elementary school through college. In her spare time she memorizes Appalachian Folk Ballads and plays open mics with her band, Bitter Whiskers.

Stephanie Baverso
Alto 1, 2016

Stephanie moved to Pittsburgh in July and joined the RCC in August. She is thankful for the warm welcome to PGH. She must thank her California family for believing in her, her Pittsburgh family for helping with transition, and of course her beautiful wife for their wonderful life.

Sam Benek
Baritone, 2016

Sam has had a vibrant singing career through high school, participating in regional and national choirs. Now he’s studying computer science at Pitt, and joined the RCC this year to continue this passion in a safe place.

Rachel Betta
Soprano 2, 2017

Rachel joined the RCC this fall with her sister, Amy, with whom she’s been singing all her life. Together they’ve performed in school and church choirs and were often drafted to command performances on Sunday mornings by their father, who was a United Methodist minister. Rachel received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in theater before finding her place in nonprofit fundraising. She lives in the South Hills with her husband, AJ; two daughters, Natalie and Veronica; and a basset hound, Watson. Rachel thanks AJ especially for taking on extra daddy time to allow her to go play with her sister.

Amanda B

Amanda has sung with Chatham University’s choir in the past. When she is not singing, she spends her time working with older adults. She is thrilled to be preforming with Renaissance City Choir and would like to thank her partner and cats for their love and understanding during rehearsals.

Raymond Blackwell
Bass, 2009

Raymond Blackwell is originally from Wilmington, Delaware. He came to Pittsburgh in 1996 to work for the Pittsburgh Opera. He is a realtor with RE/MAX Select Realty and a private voice coach and accompanist. He is married to Jefferey Shiring and they live in Penn Hills.

Pam Bram
Soprano 2, 2009

Pam has been in the second soprano section of the choir since joining. Singing has become a favorite activity since then.

Carol Chonoska
Soprano 2, 2004

Carol lives in Mars, Pennsylvania with her wife JoAnn and commutes to Bethel Park to teach special education in the middle school. She is very active as the chair of the Justice Committee and co-chair of the Mission Board right here at East Liberty Presbyterian Church. She also enjoys gardening, camping, and canoeing in her free time. RCC has been a vibrant expression of joy and affirmation in her life.

JoAnn Chonoska
Alto 2, 2003

JoAnn is a retired high school math teacher who lives in Mars with her wife, Carol. She is a board member and the treasurer for the RCC and belongs to St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Shadyside. JoAnn enjoys working on their 115-year-old home, and camping and canoeing with Carol.

Denise Cognac

Denise relocated to Pittsburgh for work in November 2017, after a lifetime in Lowell, Massachusetts. She found out about RCC when she mentioned to another member how she loved to sing. Singing is a newfound love, and her first choir singing experience since childhood. Choir practice is a highlight in her week, and she finds the energy, the talent, and the acceptance from RCC amazing.

Erin Cohen
Soprano 2, 2018

Erin joined the choir in August and is thrilled to be a part of RCC. She is enjoying being able to sing with such a welcoming and talented group of people. She is thankful for the love and support of her husband Jeff and her daughter Olivia.

Stephanie Dantzler
Alto 2, 2008

Stephanie moved back to Pittsburgh after the death of her parents, but she just couldn’t find her niche. RCC gave her the chance to live her dream of performing in front of an audience again just like she used to as a child in plays at school. The choir has become her home away from home. She would like to thank her choir sisters Cookie and Deb for introducing her to the RCC.

Sharon Davis
Soprano 1, 1995

Sharon is a founding member of the Renaissance City Women’s choir. She co-wrote the script for the RCC’s “Who’s Who” multi-media concert/game. She thanks her family and former band and choir directors for her musical education — which has been indispensable beyond words.

Charles Denk
Baritone, 2017

Chuck Denk thanks RCC for the generous welcome he’s received since relocating to Pittsburgh last summer. A natural baritone (who isn’t?), he is also a serious playwright and photographer.

Shira Feigelstein
Soprano 1, 2014

Shira is thrilled to be a Soprano 1 with the RCC. When she isn’t making lovely music, she can be found hurting the elderly as a geriatric home health physical therapist, or cuddling with her wife, Tamara; daughter, Cylvia; and their dogs.

Avery Finch

Avery is an elementary school teacher who is new to Pittsburgh. She is thrilled to have found this fun, caring community of singers. This concert concludes Avery’s first year in the choir.

Jeff Fritz
Tenor 2, 2015

Jeff has been singing with the Springdale United Presbyterian Church choir for many years. He also played the sax in his high school bands. In his spare time, Jeff loves spending time with his husband, Jason; his two daughters; and his two grandchildren. Jeff joined RCC in the spring of 2015.

David Goldstein
Tenor 2, 2012

Business executive by day, David is the husband of Artistic Director Jeffry Johnson, and is an award-winning composer of sacred choral music. He leads the Tikkun Chant Circle of Pittsburgh and is happy to be singing with RCC.

Sarah Hansen
Soprano 2, 2017

Sarah recently moved to Pittsburgh to support her role as director of programs for the nonprofit Pennsylvania Women Work. From her youth through a master’s degree in performance studies, Sarah has long held a passion for music. She is thankful for the support of her husband, Sean, and is thrilled to add her voice to the RCC!

Delaney Hathaway

Delaney Hathaway is a first-year choir member, recently moving to Pittsburgh after graduating from Ball State University. Outside of choir, Delaney is an elementary school teacher who loves to act and perform in local theater productions and independent films. She is very humbled to be a part of such a wonderful organization and cannot wait to see what the future holds.

Morgan Hawkins
Alto 1, 2010

A member of RCC since 2010 and current RCC board president, Morgan spends her days as a graphic designer at Pittsburgh Glass Center. In her spare time she can’t pass up a thrift store, yard sale, or karaoke night. Morgan lives in Swissvale with her daughter Emory.

Phil Hayes
Bass, 2015

Phil is having a terrific time singing with the RCC. In addition to loving the music, he finds it a wonderfully open and accepting organization. Phil works in computer software development and lives in Point Breeze with his wife, Louise.

Lauren Kent

A former violist, Lauren is thrilled to return to the world of music by joining RCC. She hails from New York by way of the Pacific Northwest, but she thinks Pittsburgh suits her perfectly. She can often be found drinking craft beer with friends or playing sled hockey.

Lisa Kessler
Soprano 2, 2016

Lisa is excited to have found a musical home with the RCC! She came to Pittsburgh in 2009 to attend CMU from New Jersey and loves the city more every day, except for the Penguins. She is currently a data analyst supporting homeless services at the Allegheny County of Human Services.

Pam Kimmel
Soprano 1, 2019

Pam has sung with many, many choral groups throughout her life. She currently sings with Belle Voci of Pittsburgh and the ELPC Chancel Choir. Pam is thrilled to be singing with RCC under Jeffry Johnson in her first full concert. She is thankful for all the kindness and support the choir members have shown to this old singer, new RCC member.

Blaine Knupp
Tenor 1, 1995

Blaine has sung with the Johnstown Symphony Chorus, the McKeesport Symphony Chorus, and various local church choirs. He is a square dance caller for the Iron City Squares, Pittsburgh’s GLBT and friends square dance club. Blaine recently retired from his position as Public Services Librarian at Indiana University of Pennsylvania after 35 years of service.

Barbara Lebeau
Alto 2, 2015

Barbara sang in choruses during high school and college; worked as a camp counselor, radiation safety technician, waitress, photographer, cab driver, filmmaker, writer, and fundraiser. She currently works and plays with clay and sings, joyfully, with the RCC. She sends love and gratitude to her husband, Tom Aspell, for his ongoing love and support.

Colleen Libertz
Soprano 2, 2015

Colleen is a returning RCC member. A singer since elementary school, she’s thrilled to be a part of the RCC community and create beautiful music! She currently works as a student affairs professional at Carnegie Mellon University.

Meta Lucille
Alto 1, 2018

Meta Lucille, aka Elizabeth, has been a Pittsburgh resident since 2011. She is a graduate of the Duquesne University Mary Pappert School of Music, and is the director of the Rising Voices Youth Choir. She teaches voice, beginner piano, beginner guitar, and beginner djembe out of her home in Baldwin. Meta has been an avid singer from a young age. She is excited to be performing in addition to her position as a director and conductor. When she is not teaching or performing, Meta works for TaskRabbit and enjoys restoring silver and wood, baking, hiking, and spending time with her partners and her cats.

Tim McGogney
Bass, 2016

Trained as a saxophonist, Tim is excited to perform music again. Voice is a new instrument for him, but he has enjoyed his time working with this group. Tim is a teacher in the Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Douglas McIntyre
Tenor 1, 2008

Douglas is thrilled to continue to be involved with the RCC, an organization that has generously offered joy, meaning, and friendship to his life. He lends his shrill high notes to the choir on the condition that they are returned in better condition than when they were offered.

Lydia McShane
Soprano 2, 2014

Lydia McShane has been studying voice and performing for several years with Jett Downey at the East End Song Studio. She performed in two RCC cabarets and has appeared in other community musical productions. She is most proud of her beautiful, sweet daughters, Julia and Alena.

John Mueller
Tenor 2, 2000

John, a faculty member in the Department of Student Affairs in Higher Education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, is an active member of IUP’s Safe Zone program. Outside the classroom and choir, John enjoys world travel, home improvement projects, playing the guitar, learning piano, and tending to his cats Calvin, Mason, and Eddie.

Michaela Page
Alto 2, 2012

Michaela Page has been singing most of her life – in Vermont, where she was born and raised, as well as Boston and Los Angeles, New Hampshire, and finally Pittsburgh, where she is thrilled to be singing with the RCC. Through various Madrigal and choir groups, musical theater performances, vocal jazz and her college a capella group, “the Noteables” Michaela has found singing with a collective to be a life-force that creates joy instantly. She lives in Lawrenceville with her husband, her two “furry kids,” and her new baby!

Amanda Parrotte
Soprano 1, 2012

Amanda enjoys singing with RCC for the variety of music and the great company of its wonderful members. Being part of RCC is very meaningful to her, as this welcoming community provides so much positivity by coming together to make music. She loves writing songs with Ms. Kait about Harry Potter in their wrock band Muggle Snuggle, and also writes music under the name First Person SINGular. She plays baritone saxophone in the Pine Creek Community Band in the North Hills and sings with the Teutonia Damenchor and Maennerchor.

C.E. Pino
Soprano 2, 2012

Child of God, mother, daughter, sister; musician, storyteller, early childhood music specialist; lover of all manner of group singing and dancing; collector of global music and instruments.

Eva Resnick-Day
Soprano 2, 2017

Eva is excited to be part of such a warm and talented choir. In her free time she can be found in the Pittsburgh activism scene advocating for environmental justice and singing karaoke at Nico’s.

Julia Rippel
Soprano 2, 2016

Julia Rippel began singing with the RCC last year and has enjoyed every moment so far. She couldn’t ask for better company to tackle the RCC’s challenging and amazing repertoire. She has lived in Pittsburgh her whole life and is excited to expand her musical community.

Maggie Ritchey
Soprano 2, 2000

Maggie is a “Fesbyterian Lemenist” and a “Great Peace Marcher” who loves to sing with the RCC and her church choir, too! She’s a native ’Burgher who lived in L.A. for 25 years before coming home about 20 years ago. She’s been with the RCC for 17 years and hopes for many more to come!

Julia Roberson
Soprano 2, 2018

Julia is happy to be singing in a choir again and is excited to be a part of her first Pride concert. When not singing, Julia can be found working at the 412 Youth Zone or swing dancing.

Sarah Scherk
Alto 1, 2015

Sarah loves singing with RCC, and in general. She joined the choir in fall 2015 and joined the board in spring of 2017. She moved to Pittsburgh to serve as an Education Justice Fellow with Repair the World, and “education” and/or “social justice” have defined her work ever since.

Stacy Schermann
Tenor 1, 2008

Schermann is a full-time music and tech nerd. They are thrilled to be part of the band again this year.

Peg Schmidt
Alto 1, 2013

In her fifth year with RCC, Peg is very happy to be singing with the RCC. First and foremost, she would like to thank her spouse Wilma and son Chris for all their love and support. Additionally, she would like to thank her fellow choir members for being so supportive and so much fun to sing with! She would also like to thank Trader Joe’s for the weekly flowers; ELPC for the space to sing in; and Jeffry, Bill, and Jessica for all they do!

Edie Shealy
Alto 1, 2015

A native of South Carolina and proud alumna of East Tennessee State University, when she is not singing in the choir, Edie engages in coed and women’s softball teams, reading, and traveling. She would like to thank Natalya, friends, and family for encouragement and support in all of her endeavors!

Jefferey Shiring

Jefferey Shiring is delighted to have re-joined the RCC after a three-year hiatus to complete his master of social work degree at the University of Pittsburgh. He joins his husband, Ray Blackwell, and the rest of the choir in an effort to make this show especially memorable.

Ronald Spiering
Tenor 2, 2007

An instrumentalist at heart, Ron has found singing with the choir to be a great new way to experience music. Ron has played the trumpet for 26 years and fills some of his free time playing for various local theater productions and in a community band.

Keith Strader
Tenor 2

Keith is thrilled to have returned to RCC after a 10-year hiatus. He enjoys singing and entertaining others. He and husband Cliff and 2 dogs are residents of Washington, Pa. They enjoy travel and spending time with family and friends. He would like to thank the RCC family for the warm welcome back and enjoys singing with you all.

Kurt Summersgill
Baritone, 2014

Kurt is happy to be singing baritone, after years as a tenor. When not singing with the RCC and the ELPC Chancel Choir, he works as an oral pathologist at the Pitt School of Dental Medicine and plays in Frick Park as an Urban Eco-Steward.

Mark Swift
Bass, 2013

Hailing from Staunton, Virginia, Mark has been a “temporary” resident of southwest Pennsylvania for 17 years. By day, he professes ethnomusicology to receptive students at Washington and Jefferson College. Outside of his job, he sings and occasionally plays piano as part of the choir of First Presbyterian Church 1793 in Washington, Pennsylvania, and studies geography and geomorphology at WVU. In the summer, Mark can mostly be found on mountain trails with his dog, Flash. Mark is grateful to have discovered a much-needed social and musical outlet with RCC over the past four years.

Alexandra Vansuch
Alto 2, 2004

Alexandra “Sandy” Vansuch has been singing with RCC since 2004. After a career including home renovation, being a crew member at Trader Joe’s, teaching at Penn State Shenango, and running a theater in Youngstown, Ohio, she is is trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up.

Amy Vermillion
Alto 2, 2017

Amy joined the RCC with her sister, Rachel, with whom she’s been singing all her life. Together they’ve performed in school and church choirs and were often drafted to command performances on Sunday mornings by their father, who was a United Methodist minister. Amy is ecstatic to have found her way back to choral singing, as she loves harmonizing and Latin, and finds few opportunities for either in her career as a retail store manager. Amy lives happily in Castle Shannon with her wife Patty and an assortment of animals.

Sarah Withee
Alto 2, 2018

Sarah is a software engineer originally from Kansas City, MO where she was a part of a LGBTQ-inclusive choir there. When she’s not singing with RCC, she’s working to better the tech community, running a local software conference, and trying to constantly pet and play with her two large cat brothers.

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